Alpha Training: What Is It?

Alpha training is essentially an education of our brain how to get a new skill. It helps us learn to control the brain’s alpha rhythms. We wrote more about them here. This approach is based on biofeedback, or scientifically put — neurofeedback.

Neurofeedback is the keystone of alpha training. This technique allows conscious control of the alpha waves frequency. In 1958, Japanese scientist Joe Kamiya conducted an array of studies using electroencephalograph sensors. He proved that an individual can change their brain bioelectrical activity in the alpha range and established the connection of alpha rhythms with the state of relaxation. Overall, neurofeedback works in the following way: special sensors read the brain electrical activity, and this information is displayed on a computer screen as various signals (e.g., changing color or music). If the brain operates as we want (e.g., relaxes), the signals become brighter or the music gets louder. Otherwise, the colors become dimmer or the music sounds quieter. Thus, the brain understands when it operates as we want and gets into this state more often. After several sessions, it can learn to go into this state by itself, without any feedback. It somehow resembles training dogs.
Dr. Kamiya was among the first scientists to show clinical application of the neurofeedback technology. Alpha training became widely used in professional communities, and it is still utilized in psychotherapy programs and educational processes today. Controlling alpha rhythms helps improve concentration, relax when you need it, and cope with stress. It can improve academic performance, sports indicators, and work productivity. But that’s not all! Alpha training is successfully used in stroke rehabilitation and ADHD treatment in children and teens. Moreover, it proved effective in reducing various anxiety disorders intensity!
Alpha training can include a wide range of techniques aimed at improving mindfulness, communication skills, stress and coping with anxiety. In many ways, it resembles meditation, as both these approaches help to achieve deep relaxation and mindfulness. A meditating individual learns to control their bioelectrical brain activity by breathing and can go into a relaxed and calm state.

Waverox Mind Tracker has its own alpha training called Stress Resistance, which facilitates control of alpha rhythms. Before, one had to go to a lab to do an alpha training, but now you can do it at home. The 25 sessions of the Mind Tracker training help users to learn how to control the alpha wave through biofeedback. How the training works: the user puts on their Waverox device, launches the app, enters the training, closes their eyes, and tries to relax as much as it goes, killing all thoughts in their head. The main thing about this training is that there is no universal recommendation on how to relax. So, each user finds their unique way to relax, while the app indicates whether it worked or not with in-app sounds real-time. If relaxation is successful (and the alpha wave increases), you hear the sounds of forest, sea or harp, but if you still have occasional anxious thoughts (and the wave decreases), you will hear mixed-in city sounds. To master your alpha rhythm control, you need to do the training every other day.

Please note that alpha training cannot replace psychotherapy. It is not recommended for people diagnosed with bipolar affective disorder, major depressive disorder, and other emotional-cognitive spectrum disorders.

Follow the links below to learn more about how the biofeedback approach is being developed and used today:

Alpha EEG Feedback: Closer Parallel with Zen Than with Yoga

A Method for Using Neurofeedback to Guide Mental Imagery for Improving Motor Skill, Nader Riahi

Determining optimal mobile neurofeedback methods for motor neurorehabilitation in children and adults with non-progressive neurological disorders: a scoping review, Ahad Behboodi